Ceviche with Peruvian Rocoto Sauce

In 2006, I traveled to Lima, Peru on a short-term missions trip. While I was there, I ate ceviche for the first time. Served with purple potatoes and Incan corn, the fish had been soaked in lime juice and was dressed in a creamy, pepper-hot sauce that was incredibly tasty. I loved that meal and wanted to find a way to have it again in the States. Our interpreter had told me that the spicy sauce over the ceviche was made with rocoto peppers, but seven years of searching for those peppers in grocery stores and markets has been unfruitful. That’s when I decided to grow my own rocoto peppers (as well as purple potatoes this past winter). Well, my rocoto peppers started ripening last week, so it was time to have my Peruvian meal.


I found several Peruvian recipes online and adapted them to my taste. This recipe will serve 4.

  • 1 1/2 pounds of fresh red snapper (or sea bass or hogfish)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Juice of 10 limes
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • A few drops of sesame oil
  • 1 rocoto pepper sliced or diced (You can use a habanero pepper instead)

1. Chop the fish into small pieces. The larger the pieces, the longer it will have to sit in the citrus juice. (See how pink the raw fish looks.)

Chopped red snapper

Chopped red snapper

2, Dice the onion and put into ice water for 5 minutes.

Onions in ice water

Onions in ice water

3. Chop cilantro and set aside. (Yes, that’s a kiddie bowl. It was my son’s from 22 years ago, and I just can’t bear to part with it. 🙂 )

Chopped cilantro

Chopped cilantro

4. Slice or dice the rocoto pepper and set aside. (See its black seeds?)

Sliced rocoto peppers

Sliced rocoto peppers

5. In a glass baking dish (I used a 9 x 13 size), combine fish, onions (without ice water), cilantro, salt, rocoto pepper, sesame oil, and lime juice. (For a less acidic taste, you may substitute the juice of one orange for a few of the limes.) Cover with plastic wrap and put into the fridge.

Ceviche ready for the fridge

Ceviche ready for the fridge

6. How long you leave your ceviche in the fridge depends on how large your fish pieces are and how “done” you like it. If you prefer it more on the raw side, leave it for 30 minutes before checking it. If you prefer it with more of a cooked texture, leave it for up to 3 hours. Just keep checking it. I left mine in the fridge for 1 1/2 hours and stirred it halfway through. (I think next time, I will leave it for a full 2 hours.) You can see how the citric acid has broken down the fish protein – the pink fish is now white.



Serve cold with rocoto sauce (see below).

Peruvian Rocoto peppers

Peruvian Rocoto peppers ~ very hot!


I found this recipe in a cookbook entitled, Some Like it Hot: Spicy Favorites from the World’s Hot Zones, by Clifford A. Wright. It’s filled with recipes from around the world using all kinds of hot peppers. I bought the book just for THIS recipe!

  • 4 rocoto peppers (or 3 red serrano peppers plus 1 habanero pepper)
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces feta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt

1. Remove tops and seeds from peppers. Place in a saucepan with enough water to just cover them and bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, remove from the heat, strain, then repeat.

2. Place the strained rocoto peppers in a blender with the vegetable oil, onion, cheese, and salt, and puree until smooth ~ about 2 or 3 minutes.

(The sauce can be stored in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to one month.)

Serve the rocoto sauce over the ceviche or on the side with rice or purple potatoes and enjoy!

Ceviche with rocoto sauce and rice

Ceviche with rocoto sauce and yellow rice

If you’d like to grow your own rocoto peppers, the only place I’ve found that has this seed is Seed Savers Exchange. I’d love to know if you try growing it!


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